China to mark war anniversary with stamps, coins, movies

BEIJING:The Chinese Communist Party has announced that China will issue coins, stamps and movies as well as hold memorial activities for soldiers for a large-scale formal commemoration of the end of its war against Japan in 1945, official media say.

A notice from the party over the weekend said China would release commemorative movies and television programs and issue publications to mark the 60th anniversary of Japan's retreat from China after 14 years of occupation and its Aug. 15 World War II surrender, Xinhua News Agency reported.

A ''large commemorative exhibition'' and a seminar will bring together generals and soldiers who fought against Japan, Xinhua said. Their family members and friends may also attend.

''The activities will focus on the historic significance of the victory of China's war against Japanese aggression,'' Xinhua said, citing a notice issued by the party.

Xinhua did not mention a timeline for the memorial events or give any details.

The announcement breaks from China's usual stance of avoiding war memorial events to keep peace with Japan. Every year since 2001, activists in Beijing have urged the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, to approve a memorial day, but their suggestions have never been approved.

Experts say China does not want to approve a memorial day at the risk of straining already tense Sino-Japanese relations.

But activist Wang Jinsi, a Beijing man who has pressed the congress to approve a memorial day, says the stamps and movies do not go far enough.

Anti-Japan activists have collected 500,000 online signatures in support of a mass horn-honking activity and a formal moment of silence on either Aug. 15 or Sept. 18, the day in 1931 when Japanese troops began to invade northeastern China.

''This is about 10 percent of wishes,'' Wang said of the party-announced memorial proposals. ''Stamps and the like are not too standard. They're not a very important activity. They've done these things before.''

The memorial events are also to ''spotlight'' the Communist Party's role in fighting the Japanese army, Xinhua said.

Although the party was not in power during the anti-Japan war, Chinese media and school textbooks credit it for repelling Japanese forces.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a press briefing Tuesday that he hoped Japanese people would join China's memorial events.

''In the end, Japanese people also suffered a major catastrophe during that period,'' Liu said. ''I think this day is worth being a memorial day for the peoples of Japan and China.''

Keiji Ide (井出敬二), spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, said he hoped the memorial events would also highlight improvements in Sino-Japanese relations since 1945, especially the normalization of diplomatic ties in 1972.

''I take this year, as the 60th anniversary, seriously and think it is a good occasion to reflect upon our efforts, our joint efforts after World War II, for development of relations,'' he said.